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Fred - Interview 20

Age at interview: 67
Brief Outline: Fred often finds it difficult to get to sleep. He also finds that if he wakes up in the night he finds it takes a long time to get back to sleep. Sometimes he comes downstairs and has a cigarette in the back garden before trying to go back up and get to sleep. Fred noticed his sleep changed after he retired and feels this may be because he isn't quite as active.
Background: Married, 2 children, retired Aircraft Engineer

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Fred is a retired aircraft engineer who is married with two children. He has been retired just over two years, but still keeps active by playing golf on a regular basis, although he thinks he would sleep better if he were even more active.

 
Fred did notice a change for the better in his sleep following prostate surgery, but still occasionally has to get up to go to the toilet in the night. However, Fred often finds he takes a long time to get to sleep, or finds it difficult to get back to sleep if he wakes up in the night. If Fred has a really bad night he may have a nap in the afternoon, but would not go to bed earlier to make up for a poor night’s sleep.
 
Fred finds if he wakes up in the early hours of the morning, about 4 or 5 am, he finds it particularly difficult to get back to sleep then. Fred has tried warm milky drinks to help him get to sleep, and avoids coffee, but generally finds this doesn’t make much difference. However, although his sleep is quite disturbed, Fred tends not to worry about it too much because he doesn’t have to get up and go to work in the morning.
 

Fred may be very tired when he gets into bed initially, but after about 5 minutes he is wide...

Fred may be very tired when he gets into bed initially, but after about 5 minutes he is wide...

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So what I usually say to people is can you give me a sort of a snapshot of what a normal night’s sleep for you, your pattern at the moment, how you sleep now?
 
How I sleep now. Well we basically go up at the same sort of time. Round about elevenish. We never used to go to sleep till… sorry we would never go later then say ten o’clock half past ten when I was working. But because of this problem about not being able to sleep, I said well it would be probably be better if I go later when I would be more tired. So we tried that and it didn’t make any difference. I mean I could be sitting down here and I would sit and do the crossword, if there wasn’t much on the television, I used to do Sodoku puzzles as well and then I would go out for a last cigarette, and go upstairs, into bed and by that time I am really feeling tired. I can get into bed and just for some reason I will lay there and initially the first five minutes, lovely, snuggle down like you do, and then all of a sudden, something just seems to wake me up and then I just turn over this side, turn the other side, lay on my back, I can’t sleep on me back or me left hand. I always go to sleep on the right hand side, on my right. And when that doesn’t work, I start to get frustrated then. And, well this is no good, just laying here I am not getting anywhere. Then I come downstairs in the garden, have a cigarette, about twenty minutes or something like that, then pop upstairs again and eventually I would go off.
 

But it just takes such a long time and then I possibly go to toilet, about say 2 o’clock, because it is only about a year I had prostate operation because I had a bladder problem you know, and that’s made a hell of improvement. It really has, from the point of view of not getting up during the night. But once I do wake up, then it’s a job to get back to sleep again. It is so frustrating at times you know, but if I do something really strenuous like I said to you earlier, we went down to [county] yesterday, it was fine. I was sitting watching television and [my wife] said to me, you going to sleep, I was sat there with my eyes shut. We were watching a documentary on National Geographic. And I said yes I do feel a bit tired. I went up to bed no trouble at all. I had my last cigarette out the back, upstairs, into bed and I should think I was asleep within five minutes. No trouble at all.

So it is very frustrating because I know sometimes, or most nights I do feel tired, when I am down here, but as soon as I get up them stairs into bed, and we have got a need a new bed, but I am not blaming the bed because the bed is lovely and comfortable. It really is comfortable, but for some reason, I just seem to wake up when I get into bed. I just can’t explain the reason why. I try the counting sheep type of thing which, I try to think of fishing …I enjoy fishing and golf and thinking of things like that, but it just doesn’t seem to help. And a couple of times I have gone back upstairs after I have had a cigarette, and then I come back down again and I have even come down and made a cup of tea and sat in the garden. Had a cup of tea and its probably half past two, three o’clock in the morning. Have a cigarette and then gone back up again.

 

Fred has noticed a big improvement in the number of times he has to get up to go to the toilet...

Fred has noticed a big improvement in the number of times he has to get up to go to the toilet...

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Fred'   Yes, because obviously that was one of the main reasons for going to see him (doctor) was getting up four or five times during the night and all this sort of thing, but apart from that I never sort of worried about it really.
 
Wife'   You just probably thought you were getting that way because you kept going to the loo, because if you feel your bladder is full up, I mean even me, it is very, very rare that I will get up to go to the toilet.
 
Fred'   Oh very rare.
 
Wife'   But I mean if I have got to go, you have got to go, you know, so with him, you know, it was quite serious really. Because he had to keep getting up all the time.
 
Fred'   Well it was annoying. Because also I was working at the time then as well. because I had the problem for a long time, and you are actually tired when you have got to go to work and you have to force yourself and this that and the other, and because it may be psychologically thinking about it, might have something to do with it, the fact that I used to be like that they did something instead of me, that really you don’t want to go to bed yet, because you will only be getting up to go to wee. But I have had the operation now so that is fine. But thinking about it that way, which I haven’t done, before it may be something psychological there telling me that if I go to bed I will be waking up. But I know I am not now, because I have had the operation.
 
Fred'   Well we basically go up at the same sort of time. Round about elevenish. We never used to go to sleep till… sorry we would never go later then say ten o’clock half past ten when I was working. But because of this problem about not being able to sleep, I said well it would be probably be better if I go later when I would be more tired. So we tried that and it didn’t make any difference. I mean I could be sitting down here and I would sit and do the crossword, if there wasn’t much on the television, I used to do Sodoku puzzles as well and then I would go out for a last cigarette, and go upstairs, into bed and by that time I am really feeling tired. I can get into bed and just for some reason I will lay there and initially the first five minutes, lovely, snuggle down like you do, and then all of a sudden, something just seems to wake me up and then I just turn over this side, turn the other side, lay on my back, I can’t sleep on me back or me left hand. I always go to sleep on the right hand side, on my right. And when that doesn’t work, I start to get frustrated then. And, well this is no good, just laying here I am not getting anywhere. Then I come downstairs in the garden, have a cigarette, about twenty minutes or something like that, then pop upstairs again and eventually I would go off.
 
But it just takes such a long time and then I possibly go to toilet, about say 2 o’clock, because it is only about a year I had prostate operation because I had a bladder problem you know, and that’s made a hell of improvement. It really has, from the point of view of not getting up during the night. But once I do wake up, then it’s a job to get back to sleep again.
 
 

Fred would definitely not go to bed any earlier if he slept badly the night before, but he may...

Fred would definitely not go to bed any earlier if he slept badly the night before, but he may...

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So if you have a really bad night like that will you go to bed earlier the following night?
 
No. No I never go to bed earlier, no. I might have a nap in the afternoon but then that is never for very long. I might sort of sit back and close my eyes like you do probably for about half an hour something like that, but that is all. But we still don’t go up to bed early because of the night before.
 
Oh okay. Right. So the nap is that something you say after a bad night’s sleep I had better have a nap today?
 
Well no. If we have been out doing something or whatever. I might be out in the garden pottering about or cut the grass or whatever, and come back in here and especially as I say after dinner as well, just sit here nice and comfortable and all of a sudden just feel boomph as though my eyes are going a little bit. You know, so I thought well no problem, so I will just sit here and have a little sleep for a while. And then between half an hour, forty five minutes, something like that, because I know for a fact years ago if I had slept for too long during the day I would never sleep at night.
 
Oh okay.
 
Which is obvious really because you are sleeping too much in the day time. So it is never very long, even if I have had a bad night, it is never very long that I will sleep in the chair.
 

Fred doesn’t have strong feelings about how important sleep is because he feels he has got used...

Fred doesn’t have strong feelings about how important sleep is because he feels he has got used...

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And another thing I ask is sleep important to you?
 
I don’t – well no, I don’t think it’s important to – well obviously not because if it was that important I would have been to the doctors I would have been somewhere long before now. I think I would be quite happy really if I can get a few hours sleep then I am pretty comfortable the next day and like I say, I might have a nap in the afternoon for about half an hour, 45 minutes something like that.It is not a major problem whether I go off or whether I don’t or have a decent night’s sleep rather. It is just one of those things that I have just got used to being that way, as opposed to doing something about it, like you know, so it is not a major problem with me no, no, not from that point of view. If I can get a few hours up in bed I am quite happy with that really.
 

Fred would have been more likely to go to the doctor if he had very bad sleep when he had to get...

Fred would have been more likely to go to the doctor if he had very bad sleep when he had to get...

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And do you think it is something you might do in the future. Would you go to the doctor? How bad would your sleep have to be?
 
I think it would have to be really bad because as I have said before, I mean I do occasionally get the good night’s sleep as well and I can quite easily put up with the inconvenience if you like of the bad night, purely and simply because of the situation we are in now, where it doesn’t really matter, from the point of view of having to be anywhere or going to work. It probably does matter from your point of view, saying I should be getting proper sleep, but from my personal point of view it isn’t a great problem. It is a nuisance. Obviously. But obviously it would be a completely different situation if I was still having to go to work I would probably pursue it more then. If I were in a working situation. 
 

Fred found the prostate surgery he had has made a big difference to his sleep because he now gets...

Fred found the prostate surgery he had has made a big difference to his sleep because he now gets...

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How I sleep now? Well we basically go up at the same sort of time. Round about elevenish. We never used to go to sleep till… sorry we would never go later then say ten o’clock half past ten when I was working. But because of this problem about not being able to sleep, I said well it would be probably be better if I go later when I would be more tired. So we tried that and it didn’t make any difference. I mean I could be sitting down here and I would sit and do the crossword, if there wasn’t much on the television, I used to do sodoku puzzles as well and then I would go out for a last cigarette, and go upstairs, into bed and by that time I am really feeling tired. I can get into bed and just for some reason I will lay there and initially the first five minutes, lovely, snuggle down like you do, and then all of a sudden, something just seems to wake me up and then I just turn over this side, turn the other side, lay on my back, I can’t sleep on me back or me left hand. I always go to sleep on the right hand side, on my right. And when that doesn’t work, I start to get frustrated then. And, well this is no good, just laying here I am not getting anywhere. Then I come downstairs in the garden, have a cigarette, about twenty minutes or something like that, then pop upstairs again and eventually I would go off.
 
But it just takes such a long time and then I possibly go to toilet, about say 2 o’clock, because it is only about a year I had prostate operation because I had a bladder problem you know, and that’s made a hell of improvement. It really has, from the point of view of not getting up during the night. But once I do wake up, then it’s a job to get back to sleep again.
 

Fred believes he sleeps less well now because he is much less active since he retired.

Fred believes he sleeps less well now because he is much less active since he retired.

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And did you have a physically active job?
 
hm.
 
Yes.
 
Oh yes, yes. an engineer, when I was in engineering. It wasn’t heavy. But you were in and out of aeroplanes and all this sort of thing. An aeroplane engineer it was. Aircraft engineer, but just before I retired I was made redundant from the Engineering Company, been there for years, and I thought well at my age, I was about 63, I think at the time. And I said to [my wife] there is no engineering around this area now, all the engineering has died out for whatever. And believe it or not I finished up, I applied at Sainsbury’s to work in the shop. Never having done that in my life before, and I got the job and I worked there for about eighteen months or something like that and it was eye opening and it was very physical, because you were either out the back or stocking the shelves, so quite heavy boxes that sort of thing. And I used to start at six when I first started, six in the morning until three o’clock I think it was, and then as I got nearer to retirement I started cutting down on the hours, because once I started drawing my private pension the taxation situation in this country, you know, I mean it wasn’t worth going to work for eventually.
 
So that is why I completely retired. But it was quite physical while I was there. Because then I left there and I went down to Safeways in [town] which is now Morrisons and had a similar sort of job there, but that was on the veg. where you have got your big sacks of potatoes and stuff like that, that you bring in. so in a way it was good. It kept me fit. Because I have got arthritis of the spine and my knees for years. So it kept my body supple and all that sort of thing. When you went for a cigarette break or whatever, you sat there and think 'oh nice to have a rest'. So it was good. But I have always enjoyed, I mean years ago I was, I used to work at a local animal products in [town] and that was all heavy, dead animals, carting around. So I have always been a physical sort of bloke you know, and sport, cricket, football, all that sort of thing you know, swimming, holidays all that sort of thing. So I think a lot of it is to do with the fact that I have not been as energetic if you like as I used to be. I even started going over the stadium, oh a couple of year ago now, may be more. I started going swimming, because I love swimming anyway. But there again probably I just couldn’t be bothered you know, I stopped going, but as I say, I do say play golf twice a week, which I think is good for my body obviously. It is obviously I like the game, but also you are out in the fresh air, exercise, you meet people. The social side back in the old 19th hole afterwards and a nice pint, you know, it’s great. 
 

Fred enjoyed not having to get up straight away and rush around getting ready for work.

Fred enjoyed not having to get up straight away and rush around getting ready for work.

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Well, that's the difference again with a routine, you see when you are working your mind is set on the alarm obviously you get up at five because I used to start at six. So you set the alarm at five. You see I have never been one for hitting the snooze button. As soon as that alarm goes off I am out of bed. Straight downstairs, put the kettle on. Back up have a shave or whatever. Cup of tea. Get dressed. Out to work. You have got to because you are going to work. But being retired now I can sit out there and watch the birds for an hour, hour and a half, if we are not going anywhere, sit there and watch the old birds in their box waiting for them to come out. I have no reason to start rushing and tearing about. 
 

Fred doesn’t worry about being awake for some time in the night because he doesn’t have to get up...

Fred doesn’t worry about being awake for some time in the night because he doesn’t have to get up...

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The nearer the time, you looked forward to your retirement, obviously and you can do this that and the other and you haven’t got to be anywhere at any special time and all that sort of time, you can be a lot more flexible in what you do, but actually as for the sort of pattern of sleep or whatever, I never gave it any thought, you do just, you just go to bed and you get up the next morning sort of buisness. But I have always been one for, what is the word, not really sort of fussy with sleep if you get what I mean, because you have got to have so much sleep. If you go to bed and you don’t sleep okay it is not a problem. You can come downstairs. I have even come down before now, just recently and I have sat in this chair for an hour and I mean I have done the Suduko, the crossword, and the letter search thing. Because I have just been so wide awake. I have sat down for an hour. But that is exceptional I must admit. You know.
 
You didn’t worry about it too much?
 
It doesn’t bother me, because as I say I don’t go to work now, I am retired so okay if I sleep in a bit longer in the morning eventually, where is the problem, you know, but it is a probably a lazy way of looking at it, but you can be more flexible that way when you are retired.  
 
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